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Lens Coat Review

May 31, 2017

It’s no secret that camera gear is not light on your wallet, and for me personally, it gets knocked around a fair bit. Whether it be rain, sleet, snow, hail, dents, scratches, drops and everything else, it’s all part of being an outdoor photographer. Unfortunately, when your camera gear swings around your shoulder and bangs into something it sends your heart into your throat and might empty your bank account.

With this in mind, any little bit of extra protection you can get, without sacrificing functionality is important. Enter the Lens Coat Lens cover.

Basically, the Lens Coat Cover is a closed cell neoprene tube cut specifically to the shape and size of your lens. They’re available for pretty much any lens you can come up with, including rare finds like the Canon EF 1200, and come in a wide variety of colours.

I’ve got one of these sets for my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, and considering the price of this lens, it was a no-brainer for me.

Not only does the neoprene cover help to protect the lens from cosmetic damage, it offers a small degree of impact protection too. No, it’s not going to save your lens from a fall off your desk, but when your camera inevitable swings around your body as you lean over it will soften the blow.

Because Neoprene isn’t a great temperature conductor it makes your setup easier to handle in weather extremes. Canon’s L series telephoto lenses are largely constructed of metal, and it’s not uncommon for them to be almost too hot or too cold to touch depending on where you’re shooting. On more than one occasion the metal parts on my Canon 100-400 have been uncomfortably hot or cold to touch with a bare hand, but the Lens Coat provides some insulation from that punishment.

Because any lens on the outside is a series of rings, the cover itself is cut into pieces sized perfectly for the sections on your lens. To make the neoprene into a tube, flat pieces are  stitched together and given how tight they fit on the lens it’s a wonder I haven’t blown a seam yet. The upside to this tight fit is that they’re not going to be slipping and sliding around on the lens as you’re using the zoom or focus rings. As to not cover up the autofocus and IS switching there is a PVC window that lines up perfectly with the panel and allows them to be moved without moving the cover out of the way.

A small oversight is the lack of a cutout on the lens hood section for this particular lens. The ET-83D lens hood that comes with the 100-400ii has a sliding door so that you can easily rotate polarising filters, but the lens coat covers this section up. While it does cause a minor annoyance,  I’m not sure how lens coat would solve this as to put a cutout here would definitely hurt the structural integrity of the cover. To get around this I just roll the neoprene up a little bit.

Given that Neoprene is made from rubber, the Lens Coat also offers a bit of water protection too. You’re still going to want a proper rain cover if the weather really turns sour given there are gaps in the cover and you’re still going to waterlog your lens, but in light snow or rain, it will keep most of the moisture off your lens.

The other small issue I’ve had with the Lens Coat is it adds a bit of bulk to your lens, and if you store lens hoods upsidedown on the lens it doesn’t prevent the lens from retracting fully, which means it takes up a bit more room in your bag. You can force it, but it put a but too much pressure on the hood mount for my liking.

They also are not cheap, priced at US$80, but in my opinion, it’s a small price to pay for a bit of added protection for on a $2000+ lens. Overall they are not an accessory I would buy for every lens I own, but for some of the larger ones, I think they are a smart purchase.

Where to buy:

LensCoat lc1004002m4 Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 IS II (Real Tree Max4)


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First Look: Mindshift rotation180 Horizon 34L

March 8, 2017

Camera backpacks can be a pain, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. They’re bulky, they don’t always fit very well, hence why photo megastar Chris Burkhard avoided using them (skip to 1:40 for the explanation) until Mountain Smith designed him one. Most of all, if your gear is in your bag, getting to it quickly is a problem. Bag brands are continually trying to find new ways for photographers to carry, and more importantly, access their gear, and there have been some innovations beyond the simple camera strap, like the Peak Design Capture Pro. But, for the most part quickly getting to your gear ain’t easy.

For quite some time, in my opinion, rear access packs have been the best option for my style of photography. Usually, they are big, sturdy and the packs themselves are designed around being outdoors and carrying lots of gear comfortably with load lifters, internal frames, hip straps, daisy chains and the like. The trouble is, you still have to take the bag off and set it down to access your camera. Worse, this means putting your bag down in potentially wet and/or muddy locations.

Mindshift is the outdoor division of camera bag brand Think Tank Photo, and they have created and interesting solution with their rotation180 range of bags. As the name suggests, the rotation180 series sees the camera insert attached to the hip belt which rotates around your waist, making your camera gear accessible quickly and without having to take your pack off.



Spin to win


The rotation feature is completely unique to Mindshift’s bags and accessing your gear is as simple as unclipping a magnetic latch, pulling on the hip strap, opening the camera insert and shooting – it takes all of 15-seconds to do. The insert itself isn’t big, it only really fits a Canon 5DMKiii or similar with a lens attached and a spare short zoom lens or prime.

There is also a padded pocket for a small tablet as well as a velcro mesh pocket in the lid, perfect for spare batteries and cards.



The insert itself is burly with hard sides and you can remove it from the bag for use without the pack.

To prevent the insert from sliding out of the pack, there is a flap and the patented magnetic clasp affectionately called the Fidlock. The flap has a hard plastic rib which once unclasped opens on its own, and as a fail-safe, the insert also tethered to bag with a length of webbing.

Lugging the load


While a lot of bags have interchangeable camera inserts, most take up the majority of the bag, however, with the Mindshift rotation180 Horizon you still have plenty of room for extra layers, water, food and other essentials. At the top of the pack, there is quite a large space to keep gear, as well as a laptop sleeve.

As I mentioned before the camera insert isn’t huge, and if you plan to take more than a body with a lens and a spare short lens, or need to bring a telephoto like the Canon 70-200 2.8 or Canon 100-400 MKii,  Mindshift’s Panorama insert is designed to fit perfectly in the top compartment. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of these but the insert from a Thule Perspektiv Daypack is roughly the same size and illustrates the point. 



On the front of the bag there is a decent sized pocket great for rain layers or other items you may not want to intermingle with the rest of your gear, as well as a top zippered pocket that is ideal for snacks, and smaller items.

The bag also sees a dedicated hydration bladder pocket on the side, which Mindshift says is designed around 3L reservoirs and is complete with a port for tubing. If you prefer to use water bottles over bladders there is also a bottle sleeve that comfortable fits a Nalgene.

If you plan to tote a tripod with you on your adventure, the bag features a clever suspension system that sees the tripod mounted on the back of the bag.

The pack also sees an internal frame, load lifters on the shoulder straps and sturdy webbing all around.

I’m looking forward to putting this bag through its paces over the next couple of months, be sure to check back for a full review once I’ve had the chance to get a bit of mud on it.

Where to buy

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Peak Design CapturePro Review

December 5, 2016

Your camera is no good to you if it’s buried deep in your backpack. Photography is all about capturing a fleeting moment, whether it be a skier just as he/she grabs their ski or the look of focus in a climbers eyes as they survey a problem.

For the most part, pro DLSR’s are heavy and a little awkward to carry around, especially if you’re walking, climbing, or scrambling over obstacles and up steep inclines using your feet and hands. A camera around your neck or slung over your shoulder will move and swing around possibly smacking into something and cause some expensive damage.

Peak Design have come up with a clever solution to camera carry, the Capture. Basically, the Capture is a tripod plate that connects to the ‘clip’ which can be attached to pretty much and backpack strap, belt or any other strap or piece of webbing.

The simple dual bolt design allows for your camera to be accessible at all times but mounted sturdily keeping your hands free.



There’re a few models of the Capture, rated for different weights and designed to carry different camera systems. I tested the Capture Pro with my Canon 5d Mkiii with various lens combos. Rated for up to 200lbs the Capture Pro should handle any camera and lens set up you’re carrying, and 3/8th-inch tripod bolt will probably rip off out of the bottom of your camera body before it disconnects from the clip.

Attaching the clip itself is pretty simple too, undo the bolts, put the clip around your backpack strap or belt, and tighten the bolts. The bolt heads are textured around the edges large enough for you to get a good grip, the trouble is they’re not particularly long.


My main photo backpack is the F-Stop Tilopia BC, a 40-litre pack designed to carry heavy loads. With this comes thick shoulder straps, which proved to be too fat for the bolts included with the Capture Pro. Initially, I ended up mounting the clip on the load adjuster webbing, and to my pleasant surprise provided a sturdy mounting point.

Peak Design does make a long bolt kit, which as you’d imagine are two long bolts. The standard bolts measure 15mm and the long ones 23mm which did allow the Capture to engulf the strap on my bag Tilopa BC.

Utilizing the tripod bolt on your camera, or lens shoe the Capture Pro plate comes with a small alley key ensuring the plate is securely fastened to your camera.

Open Carry


I was hesitant at first to hang thousands of dollars worth of gear from something that costs less than US$100, but as time went on the Capture Pro proved its strength. The interface between the camera and the Capture Pro is unflappable. In fact, it takes some practice to smoothly clip and unclip the camera, in the first couple of weeks in use, I actually had to take my pack off to pull my camera out.

Once you’ve got the hang of it the camera to clip connection is strong, the trouble is what every the clip is attached to may not be. The inherent problem with this mounting system is whatever you’re attaching it to be it a backpack strap, belt or webbing is designed to conform around you in some way, and this flexibility with the right combination of forces pulls the clip out of whack.

If you hang the camera from the tripod shoe on a lens because of the way the weight of the camera is distributed it pulls the top of the clip out. With the same lens as you walk it will sway and bend because the Capture is pulling on the strap.


When your using the Capture Pro it’s also important to think about the weight distribution of your pack. For example my Canon 5DMKiii with a Canon 24-104 f/4 lens attached weights 1.74kg. If I’ve have the Capture pro mounted on my left backpack strap, to somewhat balance the pack I’m going to want my tripod mounted on the left side of my pack, otherwise your shoulders and neck will be super sore.

The Capture Pro’s mounting plate also interfaces with a fair few tripods as well, and even though it’s not actually designed to interface with the Pro Master Ball head on my tripod it still works and creates a sturdy enough hold for long exposures.

Final thoughts


The Capture Pro is an awesome camera carry option for being outdoors. It holds your camera study leaving your hands free but doesn’t allow for the swing like a standard camera strap. It has its limitations as for longer lenses it challenges the integrity of the mounting surface, but the plate holds strong

This is something I genuinely use almost every time I leave the house and is well worth the money.

Since I am a fan of this product I’ve set up a deal for my readers, use my coupon code ‘clevphoto’ and take 10% off any Peak Design Product.

Click here to buy from Peak Design

Click here to buy from Amazon


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Holiday gift guide: Outdoors photographer

November 30, 2016

It’s an affliction that every photographer suffers from, we love gear. It doesn’t matter if it’s a camera lens or a headlamp, we’re like dog fur to the back of a car with it comes to gadgets.

For me and a ton of other photographers, it’s not just camera gear we lust after, it’s the other stuff we use out shooting. Whether it be on the 20-mile hike to that epic sunset location, or killing time during a lengthy airport layover there is always something that can make you more comfortable. For me, considering most of what I do takes me far from civilization here’s a few things I’d be stoked to unwrap this year.

Columbia Outdry Ex Diamond Shell Jacket Small Hyper Blue

A good rain jacket can be the difference between an awesome day out and a really shitty one. Columbia has shaken up the way we look at waterproof materials by moving the membrane to the outside with its OutDry Fabric. With the waterproof membrane as the outermost layer, there’s no DWR treatment or face fabric to wet out. I’ve just purchased one of these myself and so far it’s been FANTASTIC!

Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Silver/Black Solar Recharging Kit with Inverter

Whether it be an expedition or an epic road trip there are always batteries to charge. The smaller Goal Zero kits are awesome if you’re just charging phones and tablets, but I always have a dead laptop, camera batteries and ungodly amounts of rechargeable AA’s that need some juice. Being able to utilize a three-prong plug is vital to what I do and what’s better is this system only weighs 2.8 lbs (1.27 kg)!

UE ROLL Wireless Mobile Bluetooth Speaker 

Sometimes a campsite or a day at the beach needs some tunes, and the UE Roll is a compact reachable Bluetooth speaker. It’s water resistant (IPX7) and sees and elastic band on the back so it can be attached to a backpack strap or beach umbrella. What’s better, they can be piggybacked and music can be streamed to multiple speakers from one device to truly get the party started.

Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch

Garmin’s Fenix 3 is the ultimate Ron Swanson approved manly smart watch. It does everything a watch does, but with built-in GPS, and ABC(alto, barro, compass)  it can record you hike, help you navigate both directionally and topographically and let you know if there’s a storm coming. The watch is also Bluetooth enabled meaning you can export your activities to Strava wirelessly and download apps from the Connect IQ store, there’s everything from detailed weather forecasts to sunrise and sunset times. It’s like a swiss army knife for your wrist.

Petzl – REACTIK+ 300 Lumens Headlamp

Petzl’s REACTIK headlamp, along with a space blanket and pocket knife are all things that never leave my camera bag. Being outside you never know when you’re going to get stuck in the dark, and having a decent light source on hand has saved me more than once. This little light packs a 300-lumen punch and can be set to change its brightness based on the ambient light to maximize battery life. You can also connect it to your phone to see remaining battery life and change the light mode in real time.

Mons Royale Men’s Hold em Boxers

Bear with me when I say merino wool undies are one of the greatest things on earth. No only does the soft material cradle your undercarriage nicely, they don’t chafe or smell. An especially nice feature after three or four days camping or a long haul flight from Dallas to Brisbane. They’re a little pricey but worth every penny!

SPYDERCO Delica 4 Lightweight Blade Combination Edge Knife

A high-quality pocket knife is something everyone should have. Once you get an EDC knife, you’ll be amazed how often you actually use it and wonder how you got by without it! Spyderco knives are bomb proof and the half serrated blade makes the Delicia 4 series of knives extremely versatile.

Backcountry Access BC Link Group Communication System

When traveling in the backcountry or on a shoot walkie talkies are invaluable, both from a safety perspective and in terms of efficiency. BCA’s BC Link radios are awesome because the Lithium Ion battery isn’t severely affected by the cold, all the controls are on the mic and are easy to use with your gloves on.

Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel Bag

Patagonia’s Black Hole duffels are nearly military grade. Whether it be remiss baggage handlers, or dogs who’re confused what’s a chew toy and what’s a bag, this duffel will keep your belongings safe, dry, and organized. I’ve got one and after a rough life, it still looks brand new!!

AeroPress Coffee Maker

There are few things better in this world than crawling out of a tent and brewing a hot cup’o Joe. The AeroPress system is like a french press but way more portable and makes fantastic coffee in a couple of minutes. What’s better it’s super portable and easy to clean.

Jetboil Flash Cooking System

When climbing out of said tent and brewing that cup’o Joe, you’re going to need to heat up some water. Jetboil’s portable stoves are the industry standard for a reason and do exactly as advertised.

Snow Peak Double Wall 450 Cup

Now you’ve got your coffee brewed and the scenery is sorted you’re going to need a receptacle to drink from. Snow Peak is a Japanese outdoor brand known for making ultra lightweight titanium camping gear. As the name states, this is a 450ml double walled mug, it only weight 118g, has a retractable handle, and is double walled so your coffee won’t burn your hands and will stay warm for ages too.

Don’t forget to check out my 12 Gift ideas for photographers

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12 Gift Ideas for Photographers

November 23, 2016

With the US celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, it’s finally ok to start talking about the holidays! Photographers are a hard bunch to buy for because we lust after gear that costs thousands of dollars. What’s worse is there’s so much photography speak involving dynamic range, bokeh, F-stops, chromatic aberration, and it all sounds like gibberish to the uninitiated.

To help you cut through all the BS I’ve put together a short guide of gift ideas for photographers that are sure to make the shooter in you life smile (hint, hint, nudge nudge). All of these products are either things that I use regularly, or are on my personal wishlist.

Fstoppers Flash Disc (FS FlashDisc) Portable Speedlight Softbox


FStoppers Flash Disc

Portable light modifiers that don’t suck are few and far between. Because of their size quite often modifiers that will fit it your backpack just are not big enough to defuse the light from a flash very well, but an exception to that rule are the FStoppers Flash Discs. I have two and never leave my bag because they’re lightweight, pack down to just about nothing and work surprisingly well. They have their limitations but can be put onto any Speedlight and are extremely portable.

Click here to buy the Fstoppers Flash Disc from Amazon

Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Cover


Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Cover

Like with flash modifiers, rain covers for cameras are extremely bulky. You could argue they should always be with you, but sometimes there just is not enough room in your bag for something that packs down to nearly the size of a telephoto lens. The solution are the Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Covers! Made from rip-stop nylon it’s essentially a tube your camera and lens goes inside that you cinch down on either side. Weighing all of 70g, they come in a variety of sizes and colors, I have two a medium and XL and that covers all of my lenses. They’re not the ideal solution when it’s raining cats and dogs, but for inclement weather you’ll be glad you have them

Click here to buy the Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Cover from Amazon

Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket


Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket

Keeping memory cards organized is a royal pain in the ass, and they have the uncanny ability to find every hard to reach nook and cranny inside your bag. Thanks to Think Tank, I no longer have this issue with the Pixel Pocket Rocket. It can hold up to 10 cards (SD and CF) and the outside is made with DWR treated ripstop nylon, so even if you get caught in a rain storm your media stands a chance of staying dry. What’s better is it comes in bright color combos that you can easily spot in even the messiest camera bag. There’s also a strap which can be clipped to your belt or the inside of your camera bag for a bit of added peace of mind.

If you  to buy the Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket, and you spend $50 or more you’ll receive free shipping and a free gift courtesy of Think Tank

 If you click through to Think Tank with as THIS LINK, you’ll get to choose a free gift at checkout when you spend more than $50

Click here to buy the Mindshift Rotation 180 Professional Backpack Waist Pack Combo from Think Tank

Peak Design Black Slide Camera Strap SL-2


Peak Design Black Slide Camera Strap SL-2

This is my favorite camera strap! It’s made from soft webbing about the width of a seat belt and is length adjustable depending on how you prefer to carry your camera. What sets Peak Designs straps apart are the Dyneema-corded Anchors which interface with all of Peak Designs straps and are claimed to hold well over 90kg (200lbs). I have these anchors mounted to literally everything and what I love about this system is the strap can be moved depending on what you’re carrying. So if I’m using a short lens like the Sigma 35mm ART I can have the strap mounted on the body anchors, but if I’m using something longer and heavier like my Canon 100-400, I can attach one end of the strap to the tripod shoe, which not only takes some stress off the lens mount but also lets the camera hand in a more comfortable position.

Want to take 10% off any Peak Design Product? Click here and use my coupon code ‘clevphoto’ to take 10% off in the Pead Desing store.

ZEISS Portable Tube Lens Cleaning Kit

ZEISS Portable Tube Lens Cleaning Kit

Nothing can ruin an awesome shot faster than a dirty lens, and when your out in the field the front element is like a magnet for dust dirt and other debris. I keep one of these Zeiss tubes in my bag at all times, and it’s saved me more than once. It comes with Zeiss lens cleaning solution, a microfiber cloth as well as a few lens ‘wet wipes.’ What’s better it comes in a tube that not only keeps everything together but also protects your cleaning gear from dust.

Click here to buy the ZEISS Portable Tube Lens Cleaning Kit from Amazon

LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 IS II (Real Tree Max4)


LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 IS II (Real Tree Max4)

If you know me, you know I love camo. I can’t explain it (maybe it’s because I’m a little bit red neck), but I just do. So Lens Coat’s neoprene lens covers were a no brainer for my telephoto lenses. Not only does it look cool, it provides a bit of added protection for your $2000+ lens. The neoprene covers offer a bit of impact protection, and also insulate the lens from extreme temps and a bit of moisture and dust.

They come in a variety of colors other than camo, and just about every lens on the market. Even more, if they don’t make a cover for your lens, they’ll make you a custom cover!

Click here to buy the LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 IS II (Real Tree Max4) from Amazon

Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip


Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip

Like the Peak Design camera straps, I always have the CapturePro on my backpack strap. It allows you to rigidly carry any camera on any backpack strap, belt or bag. The all-aluminum, construction is bombproof, compatible with multiple tripod types and can be used as a tripod head itself. It’s claimed to hold 90kg (200lbs) and attaches directly to the 3/8in tripod plate on your camera or lens.

Want to take 10% off any Peak Design product? Click here and use my coupon code ‘clevphoto’ to take 10% off in the Pead Desing store.

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader


Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

Some card readers make you want to bang you head on our desk. They have 70 different ports for cards that haven’t been used in 20 years, but won’t transfer more 20 photos from an SD card without dropping out. Lexar’s Pro USB reader has a slot for a CF and SD card, utilizes and fast USB 3.0 connection, and its pop-up design keeps dust out of the slots (my favorite part).

Click here to buy the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader from Amazon

Mindshift Rotation 180 Professional Backpack Waistpack Combo


Mindshift Rotation 180 Professional Backpack Waistpack Combo

Having quick access to your spare lens and other gear is paramount and Mind Shift (Think Tank’s adventure and outdoor company) has come up with a unique solution. Rather than the rear access bags that most of us use, instead the hip belt rotates around and gives you access to the camera insert. This 38l pack offers plenty of storage for camera gear as well as outdoor essentials ie extra layers, rain jacket, food, water ect.

Click here to buy the Mindshift Rotation 180 Professional Backpack Waistpack Combo from Amazon

Phottix Odin TTL Flash Trigger for Canon


Phottix Odin TTL Flash Trigger for Canon

The Phottix Odin triggers are my radio triggers of choice. The reason being, they just work! I’ve never had any issues with misfires, they’re easy to use and offer advanced features like high-speed sync and rear curtain sync. Linked above are the Odin triggers for Canon, but just in case you’re a Nikon shooter, here’s the link for you!

Click here to buy the Phottix Odin TTL Flash Trigger for Canon from Amazon

Click here to buy the Phottix Odin TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Set for Nikon on Amazon

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens for Canon

Sigma-35mm-F1.4 ART

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens for Canon

Sigma’s 35mm F1.4 ART is my latest purchase and I’ve been using it pretty much every day. It’s proving to be a workhorse lens, and at half the price of the Canon version, it demonstrates a fantastic performance to price ratio.

Check out my first impressions of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART

Click here to buy the Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens for Canon from Amazon

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

This one is on my wish list. The 5D MKiii s my workhorse body and I’m planning to bite the bullet and buy one, but I’m still holding out hope Santa may drop one off for me. With a bump to 30 megapixels, 7fps burst rate, built-in Wi-Fi, and majorly improved dynamic range.

Click here to buy the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body from Amazon

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